The Rite of Swick; Uniquely Delicious Wine from Oregon and Washington
Like Spring itself, the arrival of Swick is a sign that good times are just around the corner.
A 5th generation Oregonian, Joe Swick is making some of the Pacific Northwest’s most unadulterated wines. He caught the wine bug while working in the wine department of his local Portland organic specialty food store. Soon, he landed at Owen Roe as a cellar hand, the beginning of a journey that took him to Piemonte, Tasmania and Portugal. After nine years and fifteen vintages, it was time to start his own winery.
Joe believes wines should be made simply and authentically, having nothing added or subtracted and most importantly, express place and vintage. Swick sources fruit from vineyards in the Pacific Northwest that farm organically or biodynamic and rarely uses sulfur at bottling whenever possible. His wines are never filtered or fined.
His ability to produce wines this way that are clean and ageable comes from both his vast experience and his naturally pragmatic approach.
He uses a small percentage of new barrels every vintage in order to avoid brettanomyces, which is commonly found in older barrels purchased from conventional producers. Creating his own stock of neutral barrels, he ensures their cleanliness and can allow his wines to mature during élevage without sulfur. He will only add a touch of sulfur at bottling if the wine absolutely needs it.
While he works with the variety most commonly associated with Oregon, Pinot Noir, Joe is simultaneously helping to break down the Burgundian monolith by producing exceptional wine from grapes that are less common, such as Graciano and Nebbiolo. All the varieties are perfectly suited to the cool weather and pine forest of Oregon’s Willamette Valley and Oregon and Washington’s Columbia Gorge.
The resulting wines are supremely enjoyable, fresh and complex. Each bottle is a pure reflection of the rugged and wild landscape from which they hail and a crazy value to boot!
A cross border melange of Washington and Oregon grapes. The Pinot comes from the Willamette Valley and is direct pressed (no skin contact) and the Verdelho, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Roussanne form high up in the columbia valley were fermented separately with 14 days of skin maceration. Lots of exotic tropical stuff on the nose with a rather restrained and crisp palate of tart fruit and waves of fresh acidity.
Graciano grown on sandy loam from Yakima, Washington in the Columbia Valley at 1600 feet elevation. Grapes are fermented with 30 days of skin maceration using native yeast and are worked by foot one or two times a day with no temperature control, then aged in neutral oak for 7 months. Light, yet deep this is absolutely chuggable. Very juicy and red and black fruit-forward with cherry, blueberry, black currant, pepper, and leather in a crisp and bright frame. So versatile but perfect for washing down grilled sausages.
Joe has mastered the chillable, chuggable light red style like few others. And what better grape to make a wine like this than Grenache. Instead of dark, heavy, and boozy, Joe’s version is bright, juicy, and bone dry with a core of wild tart strawberries and savory minerals. Low in alcohol and incredibly refreshing this is the ultimate picnic red. Chill, chug, repeat!
This is the rose version of Joe’s wildly popular Willamette Valley Pinot, and like all of his wine this is made from grapes grown organically fermented with native yeast, no filtering or fining, with only additions being a low level of sulfites. This is one of our favorite roses every year and this vintage is no exception. Lovely raspberry and cranberry notes, steely acidity and long dry finish. This is perfect for sipping on its own but a hunk of semi-hard cheese, like Tomme de Savoie, really ups the ante.